What's this? An update? Must be a miracle… LOL

Yes, I'm finally back. Not going to make any excuses. Real life sucks. Let's leave it at that!

Sooooo…you may or may not hate me by the end of this. I'm crossing my fingers for the latter, but either way, I hope you enjoy it! It's taken me long enough to spit it out!

Warning: huge-arse A/N at the end. Please read it if you can. It's kind of important.

Disclaimer: SM's names, my storyline. Please respect that.


Thinking of You

Chapter Nine – Purges, Pashing and Pancakes

"Surprise?" Dan shrugged with a meek smile, gauging my reaction.

"Oh my gosh! Dan!" I cried, jumping up behind the desk and launching myself into his arms, forgetting that the large wooden structure sat between us. Dan laughed and hugged me back, pulling me tight against his chest.

"God, I've missed you," he breathed, burying his face into my hair and inhaling deeply.

"I've missed you too," I replied, closing my eyes and savoring the moment between us. Then, pulling back from him slightly, I said, "You didn't answer my question. What are you doing here?"

"Visiting you," he responded with a wink.

I rolled my eyes, trying not to allow my predictable blush to take control. My cheeks were already flushed enough with the surprise of Dan's appearance.

"How long are you staying for?"

"What is this, the Spanish Inquisition?" he laughed. "I'm … undecided." A sudden shyness settled over his demeanor, sparking an odd curiosity inside me.

"Why are you really here, Dan?" I asked seriously, my voice quiet as I placed my hand gently on his forearm.

A large, loud group of tourists decided at that moment to enter the reception, laden down with large suitcases and duffle bags. Dan and I both turned to look at them, distracted momentarily, before turning back to face each other. I gave him an apologetic smile.

"It's kind of a long story, and you're busy. I'll tell you over drinks when I'm kicking your arse at the quiz tonight," he chuckled with a wink. I grinned at him.

"Ha ha. Good luck with that. I'll have you know that Sara, Tilly and I are the unbeatable trio when it comes to quiz night. Oh, here," I said, fishing around in my pocket for a few seconds before pulling out a set of keys. "These are for my room. You can go dump your stuff up there if you want, make yourself at home. I'll sort out your sleeping arrangements later. I'll be done here in about an hour, and then we can head out and find some dinner. My room's up on level seven. It's got an, ahem, interesting drawing of me tacked to the door. You can't miss it."

I was forever taking the cartoon-style abomination down, and yet it somehow always found its way back up on my door, fastened in a more permanent way than the time before. I knew Tilly was behind it, even if she swore black and blue that she knew nothing about it. I had yet to think of something creative to get back at her for it. Maybe Dan would have some ideas.

Dan laughed again and took the keys from my outstretched palm.

"Thanks, Bella. See you soon," he said quietly and leaned over the desk to place a soft kiss on my forehead. He then disappeared through the door and up the staircase.

I felt myself swoon a little at the gesture, then shook my head to the clear my thoughts as the large group of guests stepped up to the desk to check in. I instantly heard American accents and groaned internally. As much as I loved my home country and its people, large groups of tourists like this one were most often than not the worst people to deal with in the customer service industry. Besides, I had come to Australia to escape home, not to have it follow me halfway across the world.

Feeling my excitement over Dan's arrival dissipate somewhat, I reluctantly fixed a large smile to my face and put on my 'Happy Receptionist Bella' façade.

"Hi there! What name is your reservation under?"

A few hours later found Tilly, Sara and I well on our way to becoming the drunken quiz champions of our local pub - as per usual - with Dan fast becoming an integral part of our weekly ritual. As much as he boasted that he and Sara's boyfriend Drew would be able to flatten the three of us by themselves, after the first round of questions it was quite evident that he was all talk. By the third round, Drew had pulled out and taken to observing us girls, leaving Dan to compete on his own. By the fifth round, Dan had surrendered and joined with us to finish off the quiz and take out the title – a common occurrence for us. As the bartender, Amy, announced us the winners, Dan and Drew let out loud hoots and hollers as Tilly performed her customary "Quiz Champion Booty Shake." The dance basically consisted of Tilly shaking her ass and flashing her boobs. As shameless as Tilly seemed normally, she was even worse when drunk.

Dan and I made our way up to the bar to collect our prize, leaving Tilly alone to fend off all her sudden male attention, as Drew and Sara had disappeared outside for a smoke.

"Wow, you girls sure know how to have one hell of a crazy night!" Dan chuckled, scooping the carton of beer up under his arm.

"I did warn you …" I smirked.

"Yeah, yeah. No need to start with the 'I told you so' business …" he retorted, sticking his tongue out at me as we both headed for the exit. We passed Drew and Sara just outside the door, both puffing on cigarettes, their breaths creating large clouds in the air in front of their faces from the mixture of the cold weather and cigarette smoke.

"We'll be up in my room with the beer," I told Sara. "Come on over when you're done here and we'll put a movie on or something."

Sara nodded and snuggled in close to Drew's side in an attempt to keep warm.

"We'll be there as soon as I'm able to drag Tilly away," she said, rolling her eyes.

I laughed. "So we'll see you in about two hours then?"

Sara flipped me the bird then stubbed out her cigarette butt in the designated bin and dragged Drew back inside the pub with her.

Dan and I walked down the road towards the hostel in a companionable silence, neither of us seeming to have anything to say after leaving the pub. The silence continued all the way to the hostel and up to my room, with the exception of our appearance in reception and the congratulatory greetings we exchanged with the night porter, Gus.

After unlocking my door and fumbling through the dark to find the switch to turn my lamp on, I shrugged off my coat while Dan sat the carton of beer down on the floor beside my bed and kicked off his chucks, leaving his socks on. I watched from my makeshift desk (four overturned, stacked milk crates topped with a piece of plywood and covered with an old floral sarong) as he flopped down on my bed and closed his eyes. The content smile that animated his peaceful face sent sparks of warmth shooting through my veins, warming me from the inside out.

I smiled to myself and cracked open the carton of beer, stuffing as many cans into my tiny bar fridge as would fit. With the beer chilling, I took the three steps across the small room to join Dan on my bed. I flopped down next to him and turned my head slightly to face him, my eyes drinking in every detail of his calm features in the dim yellow light of my room.

We lay there in silence for a few moments; the only sounds in the room our shallow breathing and the dull noise of the street below filtering in through my window.

Dan began to slowly open his eyes, the bright blue orbs piercing straight through my own eyes and causing my skin to instantly erupt in goose bumps.

"Hi," I murmured.

"Hi yourself," he responded.

More silence. We continued to stare at each other, and I could feel the fading happy buzz of the alcohol in my system being replaced by something just as powerful yet completely different. It scared the shit out of me. I had no idea what I was doing, or what I was feeling, but I knew that Dan meant a lot more to me than I was comfortable acknowledging.

I also knew that if he didn't kiss me in the next thirty seconds, I was going to spontaneously combust.

As though he could read my mind, Dan's face drew closer to my own, the inches between our lips disappearing rapidly as he descended on me. His eyes sparkled brighter than I had ever seen them, making the excited anticipation coursing through my veins double.

I could feel his breath warm on my lips; could smell his sweet scent of spice mingled with the slightly stale smell of the beer he had been drinking all night. Our lips were so close now I could feel the ghost of a touch before they were to join completely in the anticipated kiss …

"Hey, slow it down, whataya want from me, whataya want from me…"

I sighed as Adam Lambert's voice became increasingly louder from the pocket of my jeans. Way to ruin the moment, Adam, I thought, closing my eyes and letting my head drop to the side. I want you to shut up so Dan can kiss me…

"Ignore it," Dan whispered, his face still hovering close above mine.

I so desperately wanted to ignore my ringing cell, but I knew that if I did, the moment would still be ruined, so it didn't really matter either way.

"Just don't give up, I'm workin' it out, please don't give in, I won't let you down …"

"Bella …"

I sighed again and rolled away from Dan, standing up to pull the damn phone from my pocket. I looked at the caller ID before cutting off Adam mid-word by answering; it was Sara.

"Hi Sara," I answered, not even trying to keep the disappointment out of my voice.

"Hey Bella, are you okay?" Sara replied, shouting over the noise of the pub.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"Hang on, I can't hear you." I heard the background noise of the pub dim until I could barely hear it; Sara must have walked out onto the street. "That's better. I can actually hear myself think now. Are you sure you're ok? You don't sound very happy."

"Yeah, I'm just tired. What's up? Have you managed to get Tilly under control yet?" I asked, changing the subject. As annoyed as I was with Sara's interruption, I knew that she would feel guilty if she knew what she had intruded upon, and I didn't want her to think that I was annoyed with her, because I wasn't. She hadn't known what was about to happen between me and Dan, so it wasn't her fault. That didn't stop me from feeling extremely disappointed though.

"Yeah … that's what I'm calling about. Tilly's had more than a little too much to drink tonight, so Drew and I are going to take her back to our place and let her pass out in the spare room. We're both pretty tired, so we're going to pass on the movies and beer tonight. Hope you don't mind?" explained Sara.

At Sara's words, I was internally cheering and jumping excitedly at the thought of Dan and I having the rest of the night alone together, while also feeling petrified for the same reason.

"No, that's okay. We'll probably just put on a movie and fall asleep. Do you need a hand with Tilly at all?"

"No, we'll be fine. Drew's got it under control," she laughed. "Hey, how about we meet up for breakfast tomorrow? Drew doesn't start work until two o'clock and you and Til both have the morning off, don't you?"

I nodded into my phone, forgetting Sara couldn't see me. "Yeah, we're both on reception together tomorrow night. What did you have in mind?"

"How about we meet at the Pancake Manor at ten? That'll give Til a chance to sleep off tonight and make herself feel somewhat human. Sound good to you?"

"Sounds perfect," I smiled, remembering my first meal in Brisbane – pancakes at seven in the evening courtesy of the Pancake Manor.

"Awesome. Do you remember how to get there?"

"Umm … I think so. Refresh my memory, just in case?" I suggested.

After getting the directions to our breakfast meeting place off Sara, we bade each other goodnight (I wished her luck with Tilly), and then hung up. I turned back to Dan, a smile playing on my face.

"Tomorrow morning, you are going to experience the BEST pancakes you will ever have in your life," I informed him.

"Oh really? He asked, raising his eyebrows. "Are they cooked by you?"

I shook my head and sat back down on the bed beside him.

"Nope, though I must admit, my pancakes are truly amazing …"

"You'll have to make them for me sometime," he winked.

I felt my cheeks heat up with the embarrassed flush that overtook them. Feeling a little self-conscious, I let my eyes drift down to inspect my bedspread in an attempt to avoid eye contact with Dan. An almost awkward silence fell between us.

I could feel the intensity of his gaze on me as the silence grew, and the tension that had appeared in the room since our "moment" thickened. My fingers, which were picking at a loose thread on the bedspread, were suddenly stilled by Dan as he took my hands in his.

"Bella," he said quietly, breaking the silence. "Bella, look at me."

Complying, I slowly lifted my gaze to meet his and felt my breath catch at the emotion I saw in his eyes. It was almost too much for my poor heart to handle.

"Bella, I … I really ..."

"How about we put on that movie?" I suggested, overwhelmed by the intensity of the moment. I pulled my hands out of Dan's grasp and quickly moved away from the bed and towards my small television. Once I was standing in front of my limited collection of DVD's, I allowed myself to breathe, not realizing that I had been holding my breath. Pretending that I was deciding on a movie to watch gave me a moment to regroup while hiding just how terrified I was.

"Bella, I -"

"Please, Dan?" I pleaded, keeping my back to him. I heard his disappointed sigh and the rustling of the bedcovers as he stood up. I felt him move across the room and heard the click of the door.

I whirled around to find him pushing the door open, his coat slung over one arm.

"Where are you going?" I asked, panicked.

"To my dorm," he muttered, not looking at me.

"Why?"

"Because it's clear I'm making you uncomfortable. It's probably best if I just left now …"

"Dan, no!" I cried, rushing over to him. "No, you're not making me uncomfortable. I'm just … I'm … oh God, I don't know what I'm feeling! I'm confused, I'm excited, I'm absolutely petrified …"

"Because of me," Dan stated, dejected.

"No! I mean, well, yes, but … no! It's me. I …" I broke off, tears beginning to well in my eyes. "Dan," I whispered. "Dan, look at me."

His eyes connected with mine and the sadness evident in them broke my heart. I began to cry.

"Dan, I'm just so scared. I'm scared about all these feelings you're stirring up inside me. I feel like, by … by wanting to feel these feelings, by accepting these feelings for you, that I'm betraying my … my … that I'm betraying Edward. It's so stupid, because he died over two years ago, and he told me in a letter that he wanted me to move on, to be happy with someone else, and I want that too, but I still feel so guilty, even though all I really want to do is kiss you … Dan, all I want to do is fall for you like I think I am, and for it to be that simple and that easy. I want you to have moved your whole life from Sydney to here just so you could take a chance on me, and for you to have come back to my room after a wonderful night at the pub and kissed me and settled in bed with me to watch a movie and for us to have fallen asleep in each other's arms … Dan, I want you but I don't know how to let myself," I choked, tears streaming down my face.

Without saying a word, Dan stepped forward and wrapped his arms around me, letting me cry into his shirt. We stood that way by my door until my tears had subsided. Still remaining silent, I pulled away from him slightly, pulled the door closed, and led him over to my bed. I drew the sheets back and looked at him, asking him more with my eyes than my words to stay.

"Lay with me?"

He nodded in response and we both climbed into my bed, pulling the sheets up over us as Dan spooned me, his arms wrapped tightly around me as we lay together.

I closed my eyes and breathed deeply, relishing the warmth of Dan's body around mine and being soothed by his steady breaths so close to my right ear. I interlaced our fingers over my chest and squeezed them firmly in a gesture of thanks.

We lay like that for a few minutes, the emotion-charged air from the moments before lifting the longer we lay there.

I heard Dan's breathing halt before he spoke.

"Tell me about him," he whispered in my ear. "Tell me about Edward."

I regarded his request silently for a moment, before taking a breath and starting to tell Dan the whole story of Bella and Edward, beginning with the day that we had first met. Dan listened quietly the entire time, laughing when I shared some of the funnier moments of my relationship with Edward, and holding me tighter when I found the retelling of Edward's death more difficult. I continued speaking, telling him of Jake and Alice and my parents, not stopping until I reached the first day I met Dan in Sydney.

When I finally finished, it felt as though a weight had lifted from my shoulders. I had shared things with Dan that I had never spoken to anyone about before, and it felt good. Once I had started to talk, I had found myself unable to stop, purging everything from my system.

As I lay there next to Dan, my entire being now bared for him to see, I came to a realization; two whole years' worth of pent up grief, frustration, guilt, and anger over Edward's death was now free from my heart and from my soul.

I was now free to move on.

"Thank you, Bella. Thank you for sharing that with me," Dan said, hugging me tight. His voice was full of emotion and reverence.

I rolled over to face him and hugged him back.

Looking up at him, I said, "Thank you for giving me the chance to share it with you. You have no idea how much you have just changed everything."

He looked at me quizzically. "Is it a good change?"

I smiled. "It's a wonderful change."

Exhausted from the heavily emotional night, Dan and I continued to gaze at each other until our eyes began to droop and our breaths began to even as we fell into a content slumber.

I awoke the next morning to feel my pillow shifting underneath me. It took me a moment to realize that my pillow wasn't actually my pillow; rather, it was Dan's arm and he was carefully trying to extricate it from underneath my head.

"'Morning," I mumbled sleepily, smiling lazily at him.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you," he replied, abashed. "My bladder really can't hold out any longer."

I giggled, lifting my head slightly so he could pull his arm free.

"I'll be back in a sec," he said apologetically, and rushed out the door.

I yawned and stared up at the ceiling, my smile growing wider with every passing second. I reflected on my realizations of the night before, and the fact that I had just spent the night cuddled up to a man who wasn't Edward or Jake. And I felt absolutely no guilt about it. It was a great feeling.

I allowed my mind to wander to thoughts of Dan and my feelings for him. The longer I let the thoughts infiltrate my mind, the stronger I realized my feelings were for him. As I lay there, I could feel all sorts of feelings and emotions flowing through me; happiness, excitement, nervousness, lust, love …

Love. Was that what I really felt for Dan? I had only known him for a month. Was it possible that I could have fallen in love with him in that short space of time?

It only took you a week with Edward, a little voice said in my mind.

"I suppose …" I said out loud to no-one.

"You suppose what?" Dan asked, sliding back into bed next to me and planting a kiss on my forehead.

"I suppose that staying in bed a bit longer with you won't be too much of a chore," I smirked.

"Oh ho! Someone's got their smarty-pants on this morning. I could always go get to know my dorm mates … brag that I slept with the hot American receptionist last night …"

I poked my tongue out at him. "More like snored in her ear all night."

"I don't snore!" Dan cried in mock outrage. "How dare you even suggest such a thing?"

"It was worth putting up with for the extra bed warmth though," I giggled. "If nothing else, you're good for that."

"Now you're making me feel like I've been used … bed warmer indeed," he sniffed.

I gave him a playful shove in the chest and laughed. He encased me in his arms and pulled me close to his chest. With my head resting over his heart, I listened to the steady "lub-dub lub-dub" that was the centre of his life force moving the blood around his body.

"Thank you for last night," I finally said, my voice quiet but full of gratitude. "You really helped me in more ways than I ever could have imagined."

"I didn't really do anything but listen," he replied just as quietly.

"Oh, but you did so much more! You gave me the courage to share my past, and by doing so, helped me release a lot of demons I've been living with these past few years. Last night has freed me up to be me again, to allow myself to feel things that I've previously been forbidding myself to feel. So thank you, Dan. Thank you so much."

"You're welcome," he whispered in reply, gazing deep into my eyes.

The connection our eyes held gave me the courage to voice what I'd been thinking a few minutes earlier, when Dan had been in the bathroom.

"Dan, I – I think I'm falling in love with you," I said, my voice barely a whisper. And before he could respond, I closed the distance between us and pressed my lips to his in a kiss.

I felt him stiffen a little in surprise, before he responded with an eagerness and energy that spurred on my own. His tongue gently traced my bottom lip requesting entrance, which I granted immediately, opening myself to his kiss completely. Shivers ran up and down my spine at the passion contained in the kiss, and I felt my stomach twisting in excitement. My hands wound up around Dan's neck and fisted in his hair, pulling him closer to me.

Dan's hands, which had been resting on my hips, began to make their way up my back under my shirt, coming to rest over my shoulder blades and holding me close to his chest.

When we finally broke apart, I let my forehead rest upon Dan's as we both struggled to catch our breath. I slowly opened my eyes to find his already locked on mine.

"I love you, Bella," he breathed. "I think I've loved you from that first moment I saw you blush at the bar in Sydney."

I pressed my lips against his again in response to his words, and pulled back to rest my head upon his chest again. I could feel his heart racing, just as mine was.

We held each other close, arms wrapped around each other tight, as we lay in the afterglow of our confessions. In that moment, I felt happier than I had in a long time.

Remembering our breakfast date with my friends, I glanced at my watch to check the time; it was only eight-thirty-five.

"What time are we doing breakfast?" Dan murmured into my hair.

"Ten," I replied, placing a gentle kiss to his chest. "We'll have to leave here in an hour."

"Mmmm. Plenty of time."

We spent the next half hour wrapped in each other's arms; drawing patterns on each other's backs with our fingertips, sharing gentle kisses, Dan playing with my curls …

Our walk along the river towards Queen Street was a pleasant one. The hostel was located near Southbank, so we casually strolled hand-in-hand along the boardwalk past the beach-like lagoon and over Victoria Bridge. We paused halfway over the bridge to look out over the Brisbane River on the beautiful Winter's morning; the cloudless sky was allowing the sun to reflect off the river, making the water sparkle over the waves the City Cats were creating as they glided over the water, transporting business men and women, students, and tourists alike from one side of the river to the other. We continued over the bridge and made our way down to Queen Street, walking through the mall and the busy crowd of shoppers that had already gathered there for the morning.

Once we hit the end of the pedestrian mall, we turned right on Edward Street. Every time I had come across Edward Street over the past few weeks, my heart had skipped a beat and a pain had settled deep inside me, causing me to falter. This morning, however, this didn't happen. I looked at the street sign, I read the name, I even voiced it, and nothing.

This was a good sign.

We continued along Edward Street for two blocks, making another right at Charlotte Street. Following it almost all the way to the end, we passed a second-hand book store (that I made a mental note to visit after breakfast), and came to the front steps of the old converted church that was Pancake Manor.

Sara, Drew and Tilly hadn't arrived yet, so we waited out the front for their arrival.

"So this is where I'll be eating the best pancakes ever, huh?" Dan asked, looking up at the building before us.

I nodded enthusiastically. "Uh huh. And you know what? This place is open twenty-four hours a day, so if you've got a craving for pancakes at four am, this is where you get 'em."

"Jeezus … they're serious about their pancakes, aren't they?" he laughed.

"You just wait until you try them, buddy. You'll be singing their praises 'til the cows come home."

"I can't wait," he grinned, leaning down to kiss me.

"Ahem."

A throat cleared in front of us, and upon separating we realized that our breakfast companions had arrived.

I felt my cheeks flush a little at being sprung by them.

"Something you guys aren't telling us?" Tilly questioned, one eyebrow raised.

"Nope," Dan replied, popping his 'p.'

"But you just pashed her!"

"I'm also starving. Shall we head in?"

He stepped aside and motioned for Tilly to ascend the stairs. She stared him down, brow furrowed, before relenting and marching up the stairs to the restaurant. The rest of us followed her, entering the beautiful converted church and waiting to be seated.

"Pashed?" I questioned Dan quietly, out of earshot of Tilly.

"It's Aussie for 'kissed,'" he whispered in response. "Just like the Brits say 'snogged.'"

"I see …" I trailed off, the strange word bouncing around my mind. Aussie slang was still something I was trying to get my head around.

"Table for five?" the waitress asked, acknowledging our group. There weren't too many patrons in the restaurant, so fortunately we didn't have to wait for a table.

Sara nodded, and the waitress collected a handful of menus and led us over to a large round table. Once we were all seated, she supplied us with the menus and left us to decide what we wanted.

I heard Dan moan quietly as he perused the menu.

"See something you like?" I teased.

He glanced up at me. "Sure do. But there's no way in hell I can eat it here. These pancakes, on the other hand …"

I choked at Dan's admission, my face turning a traitorous red with embarrassment.

"Dan!" I scolded quietly.

He shrugged. "I was only answering your question …" he smirked.

"Oh, you -"

"Are you ready to order?" The waitress was back, pen and notepad in hand.

Sara started off, informing the waitress of her order, followed by Drew and Tilly.

"What are you going to get?" Dan asked me, his eyes still on the menu.

"I'm having the Strawberry Patch. You?"

"I can't decide," he whined. "They all look so good …"

"M'am?" The waitress asked, gaining my attention.

"I'll have the Strawberry Patch and a glass of orange juice, thanks," I replied.

"And for you, Sir?" she asked Dan.

"Umm … uh … I'll have the Blackforest Cherry and … and an orange juice as well, thanks."

The waitress wrote down Dan's order, smiled at us, then walked away.

"Chocolate pancakes. Nice choice," Tilly grinned, giving Dan a double thumbs up. "I always get the Chocolate Jewels. There's no such thing as too much chocolate!"

Sara rolled her eyes. "It's her hangover cure," she informed Dan. "The morning after a huge night for her, without fail, the first thing she has is chocolate double coated with chocolate topped with chocolate glazed chocolate. Seriously. I don't know how she does it. I take one look at chocolate after a big night, and all I want to do is throw up."

"Because there's something seriously wrong with you, that's why," Tilly retorted.

With the help of Dan and Drew, the witty banter between the two girls turned into jovial conversation between the five of us, our laughter filling the restaurant. Our drinks turned up, not long followed by the pancakes, and within seconds a content silence fell upon our table as we ate.

"Oh my god, Bella," Dan groaned as he chewed his first forkful of pancake. "You were right. Best. Pancakes. Ever."

"Told you so," I sing-songed.

Dan closed his eyes as he chewed, savouring the heaven that was his chocolate pancake breakfast.

Our plates were soon polished off, and our stomachs full. We re-started conversation while we let our breakfast settle, discussing our plans for the rest of the day.

"I'm babysitting for my cousin tonight," Sara said. "She and her husband are going out to some work function of his for dinner, so I offered my services. Callum's going through this really cute hide-and-seek phase at the moment, so I'm really looking forward to spending some time with him." Callum was Sara's cousin's fifteen-month-old son and Sara absolutely adored him.

"I'm meeting up with this guy I met out last weekend for a coffee down at Southbank. From what I can remember, he's really hot and has a voice like sex, so I'm hoping against all hell that it wasn't just a memory from my beer goggles …"

The rest of us laughed at that, as Tilly had a reputation for meeting up with men she had met at clubs that had seemed charming and attractive at the time, but had ended up being sleazy douchebags who only wanted to get into her pants.

"I want to check out this bookstore next door," I said, looking at Dan. "If that's okay with you?"

"That's fine with me. I need something to keep me entertained while you're working anyway."

"Oh, ouch. You mean you're not going to come down and keep me company at the desk?" I asked, turning on my sad puppy dog eyes.

"You mean distract you while you're meant to be working? Maybe for a little while," he winked.

"So I'm going to be the third wheel tonight? Fantastic," Tilly pouted.

"You're a big girl. You'll get over it," Dan responded, causing Tilly to flip him the bird.

That promptly ended our conversation, each of us deciding it was time to get a move on with our day. We all rose from our seats and made our way up to the counter to pay for our meals.

Dan and I waited until last to pay our bill, as we were only heading just down the street to the bookstore and were in no real rush. We said goodbye to Sara, Drew and Tilly and stepped up to pay.

Once the bill was settled, I turned around to walk away, looking down at my purse to put away my change as I did so and accidentally bumping into the person behind me. I promptly dropped my purse and coins flew out, rolling in every which direction.

"I'm so sorry," I cried, bending down to try and collect the shiny contents of my purse.

"It's okay. Here, let me help you," the stranger replied, kneeling down to help me. Something about his voice sounded familiar. He scooped up a few coins and handed them to me.

"Thanks," I said, looking up at him.

I gasped at who I saw before me. My purse fell to the floor for the second time in as many minutes as all conscious thought disappeared from my mind.

"Edward?"

The green eyes boring into mine flashed before the familiar voice uttered a single word.

"Shit."


A/N:

Well, there you go! Bella finally starts to move on with her life and starts a relationship with Dan, only to have her past literally walk right into her. Is it Edward? Is he really alive? Find out next chapter. ;) I promise it won't be nearly as long between updates this time. Just so you know, the hostel and pub mentioned in this story aren't based on actual ones in Brisbane – I made them up. However, the Pancake Manor is VERY real, and although there is a shorter way to get to the PM from Southbank, the directions I mentioned in this chapter will get you there via the scenic Queen St Mall route. =) If you ever do visit Brisbane, I would highly recommend visiting the Pancake Manor. You won't regret it!

Now for some important (heart-wrenching) news.

As most of you know, I'm an Aussie, but more precisely, I'm a Queenslander. My home state has been absolutely trashed these past 2 months by floods and, as I type, my hometown in Far North QLD is preparing for the monster storm that is Tropical Cyclone Yasi – the largest cyclone Australia has ever experienced in living memory. My parents and little brother have self-evacuated to safer ground, my friends and other family have either been evacuated or are bunkered down in their houses – meanwhile, I'm on holiday in Melbourne. I'm am absolutely terrified right now, as I know there's nothing I can do and I have no idea what I'm going to return to when I do fly home. I've spent all day sitting online and watching the news coverage on TV trying to keep myself as updated as possible, and it has honestly torn me apart seeing the streets of Cairns that I was only walking along last Thursday night so deserted, knowing that within a few hours they're most likely going to turn into disaster zones.

The hardest thing is being so far away from my family. I was dealing okay until my Mum rang me this morning and asked me what I wanted her to save to take with them in case the house is torn apart. You always talk about what you'd save in that situation, but when the time actually arises, how do you decide? That was a very hard thing for me to do. I keep thinking about what I could have done to help my parents prepare the house if I was there, but that's all I can do – think. I won't know for a few days what I'll be facing when I go home, so all I can do right now isstay positive and prepare myself for whatever may come.

No one knows what the damage bill is going to be until after Yasi hits and fades away. But there is something we can all do to help. We can donate money to the QLD Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal, to help support those in South East QLD with the floods, and now North QLD with the Cyclone.

I, along with 7 other Aussies, have organised 'Fandoms Fight The Floods,' a multi-fandom appeal to raise funds for the Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal. So far we have raised over $5500 for the appeal, and have over 230 authors contributing stories to our compilation – authors who have come in from various fandoms to provide us with a compilation that will contain stories from fandoms such as Twilight, Harry Potter, Southern Vampire Mysteries (True Blood), Vampire Academy, and more, as well as original fiction stories.

Please, if you haven't already donated, head on over to our site to find out how. http:/fandomsfightthefloods(dot)blogspot(dot)com / p / home(dot)html (Remove the spaces)

As well as organising this compilation, I am also writing a one-shot for it. So if you'd like to see more from me, and many more of your favourite authors, please head on over and donate. Australia needs your help. My hometown needs your help.

Sorry for the epic novel of an author's note. It's just something that is very personal to me right now, and I feel like the more awareness I can get out there to raise funds, the better I'll feel.

I promise the next chapter won't be far away. I'm guessing you all either want to hug me or throw heavy objects at me right now…LOL